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Senate Dems pass $1.5 million supplemental to pay independent redistricting commission

By: - January 18, 2023 3:36 pm

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission holds a public hearing in Lansing. Photo by Anna Gustafson

The Democratic-led Senate passed a supplemental bill Wednesday that would allocate $1.5 million to the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC), but Republican leaders say they wanted more input.

After not being included in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, the MICRC last month filed a lawsuit against both chambers asking for nearly $3.17 million. Republicans controlled the Legislature last term and several lawmakers were involved in suits opposing the MICRC and its actions.

The MICRC, created in 2018 via constitutional amendment, drew the new state and congressional districts that were used for the first time for the Nov. 8 midterm election. The panel is composed of four Republicans, four Democrats and five independents. 

Sarah Anthony

The MICRC still isn’t getting as much as it asked for in their suit, but Senate Appropriations Chair Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) said that the specific allotment was chosen by the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer administration and may be adjusted later on. 

The two supplemental bills, Senate Bill 7 and Senate Bill 8, passed along party lines Wednesday.

Anthony said she met with Senate Appropriations Minority Vice Chair Jon Bumstead (R-North Muskegon) to discuss “what was going to happen here today.”

“That’s why I was a little bit shocked when our colleagues said that this was the first time they heard about it,” Anthony said. 

However, Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) said he was under the impression SB 7 and SB 8 would be shell bills when brought to the floor on Wednesday. He doesn’t support the MICRC payments. 

“I have real concerns about that piece. But other than that, I think it’s more that if you want the votes, then let’s have a negotiation and work through the process,” Nesbitt said. 

Anthony said she also believes that there were concerns about the MICRC process and thinks the Legislature “needs to make some larger, broader decisions about the commission and its future.”

The bills will next go to the Democratic-led House for a vote. 

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.